Green December Day 11 - Recycling Appropriately

I’ve stopped… Throwing things in the recycling bin if they didn’t belong there

I only recently learned about this one this past year after educating myself a little more on how the Toronto recycling system works. Turns out that a lot of conventional recyclable items based on the material it is made of, may not be recyclable depending on your municipal recycling program and it is really important to be putting the proper items in their respective bins. But to be honest, there are so many exceptions and variations of what is recyclable, that it is difficult to keep track of.

In order to keep up to date with what to do with the different types of waste I have, I discovered an app made by the City of Toronto called TOwaste. It’s a super easy to use, free app that allows you to input the type of waste you have if you’re not sure where it goes and how to appropriately discard it.


Here’s a list of the top blue-bin offenders in Toronto:

  • Food and organic waste

  • Containers with left over food

  • Clothing and textiles

  • Hot beverage cups

  • Black plastic

  • VHS tapes, chains, hoses and electrical cords


Believe it or not, putting items in the recycling or green bin with the hope that they will be sorted appropriately is more damaging than putting it in the garbage. Not only can it damage the equipment in the recycling plant, but the contamination can ultimately lead to whole bags to be thrown away if it is too difficult to separate from recyclables and cost the city thousands of your tax dollars.

Did you know that all recyclable material has a number on it that indicates its difficulty to recycle? Certain municipalities are not able to recycle certain numbers so it is important to know what you can and cannot recycle.

One of the biggest mistakes that even I used to be very guilty of, is the food contamination of containers. If it wasn’t for us being too lazy to wash containers out, we would be able to recycle a significant amount of the waste that ends up in the garbage. Have a plastic tub of hummus that is a little past its expiry date? Clean it out, and wash it before recycling it. Cooking some chicken for dinner? Separate the plastic wrap, put it in the garbage and wash the styrofoam before recycling it. Have a coffee cup? Remove the lid and sleeve, recycle it and throw the cup in the garbage.

If we all took a few more minutes to recycle mindfully, we could divert a lot of waste and money from being wasted.

Carmen Szeto